30 March 2010

MIT Brain Research Findings Encourage Obama

In an ideal world, politics and science will rarely mix. But the world we live in is far from ideal. Scientific findings can sometimes present a challenge to political regimes -- and sometimes present opportunities.
MIT neuroscientists have shown they can influence people's moral judgments by disrupting a specific brain region -- a finding that helps reveal how the brain constructs morality.

...Previous studies have shown that a brain region known as the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) is highly active when we think about other people's intentions, thoughts and beliefs. In the new study, the researchers disrupted activity in the right TPJ by inducing a current in the brain using a magnetic field applied to the scalp. They found that the subjects' ability to make moral judgments that require an understanding of other people's intentions -- for example, a failed murder attempt -- was impaired.
The researchers, led by Rebecca Saxe, MIT assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences, report their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

..."You think of morality as being a really high-level behavior," she says. "To be able to apply (a magnetic field) to a specific brain region and change people's moral judgments is really astonishing." _SD
In a democracy, government officials must take into account the wishes and concerns of the people. Careful use of the news media can sometimes influence popular opinions. But the ability to directly blunt the moral concerns of a population to the actions of its leadership -- using advanced brain science -- is an opportunity too good for an opportunistic regime to overlook.

Better ways of applying electromagnetic stimulation to specific brain regions are being developed all the time. The optimal method -- for purposes of close political guidance of citizens -- would involve the broadcast of signals that could re-calibrate the moral sense. Selectively suppressing or arousing the moral sense at appropriate times would also be extremely useful to a regime.

It is a brave new world, that we have entered. A world of many twisting turns, where less and less of what we see is what it appears to be.

In other fascinating brain news, European researchers discovered that the brain's executive functions (EF) are significantly disrupted by high levels of C reactive protein -- CRP. CRP rises in the presence of inflammation in the body. This finding is likely to prove extremely important. Remember that quite a few phyto-nutraceuticals have natural anti-inflammatory effects.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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